A few years ago, they were one of the only players in the IM game, alongside MSN, AOL IM, ICQ... have you heard about any of these lately? Of course not, they're all dead.
Talk was built on top of XMPP, an open protocol, which helped its popularity as third party clients could connect to it. Talk was also built in to gmail, and at the time that was revolutionary: A fast and lightweight chat app, right in your browser. In (one of?) the most popular mail service providers at the time!
Google has failed to capitalize on any of that. They completely ignored Talk. But then when Facebook did the same thing, oh suddenly they had to compete. So they rebuilt Talk on top of a new protocol. This time, it's proprietary. This time, it's much slower in the browser. Oh and you lose half your contacts if you upgrade to it. But at least now it works on phones?
So they tried building this new closed chat ecosystem for no good reason, and they used their Android market share to do that. People didn't like it, still used Whatsapp, still used FB Messenger, still used Viber, and the now hundreds of alternatives there are, all incompatible with one another because everybody's gotta reinvent the wheel.
You know, I can get behind that XMPP wasn't up to the task - I tried dealing with XMPP myself and it's a frustrating piece of work. But the way Google has treated IM is appalling. Really backwards. They built a good product, then completely ignored it, then built another in an attempt to reinvent it and become more locked down, butchered the old one and are now losing everything. Who's making these decisions exactly?
Matrix is probably our best bet when it comes to open chat protocols, but it's honestly not mainstream ready. In the mean time, I use Discord (https://discordapp.com/) for essentially all my communications. I have completely moved off Talk, Hangouts, Skype and even most of IRC (which has frankly fallen way too far behind more recent comms tech, even as an open protocol). It's proprietary, but at least it gives me text+voice (+ soon video) and doesn't suck - and there is no open choice I can make at this point that is approachable enough that I can convert people to it.
It's a wonder we can send e-mails between many servers. Imagine someone like Eric Schmidt driving it. We'd be stuck with incompatible AOL and Compuserve forever.
And about XMPP shortcomings - sure, it's not perfect. And if Google thought they can do better, why didn't they propose some IM-next as an open federated or P2P protocol? Because "don't be evil" is off the table I suppose.
People tried proposing to use Discord for me, but I'm really not interested in another walled garden closed protocol, without FOSS clients and servers.
Larry Page commenting about it at I/O 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pmPa_KxsAM&t=2h54m20s
Strategist commenting about it: http://www.ucstrategies.com/unified-communications-strategie...
Microsoft's one-way integration was them not exposing presence and typing notifications to services they federated with (but they were "taking" that data from others).
(Talking about web and native APIs)
> And I think that we've really invested a lot in the open standards behind all that
> I've been personally quite sad at the industry's behavior around all these things
> If you just take something as simple as instant messaging
> We've kind of had an offer forever that we'll interoperate on instant messagoing
> I think just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us but not doing the reverse
> Which is really sad, right?
> And that's not the way to make progress
However, if no one else is doing that, if no one else is playing fair (like Microsoft accepting things like typing or presence notifications but not sending them in return), then it turns out you're being constrained, and possibly doing additional work to add features, and the person benefitting the most is someone else's users and not your own.
XMPP's only major downside at the time was mobile battery life due to XMPPs limitations over cellular. This could easily have been resolved by using a non-XMPP accepted handshake (as WhatsApp did) or by using a completely different protocol for mobile as Facebook did for mobile (MQTT).
Google decided to go for a walled garden approach as a competitive advantage. There's no technical reason for it.
Google got talk working almost by accident. And it was the most feature-complete chat app for years, at least. And then, they abandoned it for years. This isn't to say it had many features, it had few. But it worked well, was integrated with gmail, was compatible with XMPP and geek's IMs, ...
After that, they killed all the compatibility before making an app that was yet again a lot more feature complete : hangouts. And hangouts got the best features for quite a while.
And then Hangouts started wildly bashing it's weight around. Forcibly taking SMS was one thing. Refusing federation. Forcing Google+ account and lots of extra info. And so on, and so forth. Hangouts was a good app, but created a lot of ill will in the process.
And then it was seemingly abandoned. Feature frozen, with the excuse that all these features had resulted in an extremely difficult to maintain app that they couldn't add features to. Chatting without having a gmail being a big one (whatsapp allowing you to chat with "everyone in your phonebook"), status, reliability (and showing clearly and timely when it isn't/cannot be reliable because disconnected, not 3h after connectivity gets restored), video call quality, adding non-gmail users or just screens to video chats, not allowing bot interaction, apps in the video chat, ...). And this lasted for years.
Inside of China, some chat apps demonstrate how chat apps can be monetized in a way that users appreciate : allow chatting with companies and give those companies the ability to show interfaces for transactions. E.g. buy a coffee. Line at starbucks ? Open up whatsapp, because you're in starbucks it shows starbucks as a contact (you can add it permanently) and there's a button "order coffee". Select what kind of buvaranicpoppafrappadongieccino you want, you pay through the app, and you've just skipped the queue. Next time you do it 5 minutes before arriving. App takes cut of transaction value (just like credit card payment does).
Next, other apps turn up. Whatsapp, Lyne, ... and so forth. And they caught up with Hangouts. Surpassing it in some ways, behind in others. Mostly they're superior in letting you find the people you can chat with. And then they passed it by. And then they left it far, far behind. It's not (yet) the case that they truly dominate hangouts in features, but it's getting close.
And lo and behold : people switched to the (sorry) better apps. I'm not entirely sure why anybody is either surprised or complaining. These changes look a lot like they're making it worse, not better, but we should give them the benefit of the doubt.
Google doesn't do even that, as they don't offer anything on-site (anymore). They have seriously failed on business markets. I don't know about consumer market, because I mostly just send dick pics for the giggles to random people I don't know.
I don't get that people complain about Microsoft software being closed, and anti-competitive ... well any cloud software is more closed and anticompetitive than Microsoft ever was on it's worst days : it's not that you can't get good documentation that the application you're using uses ... you can't even get at the data at all, in most cases.
Google is the best at this out of all the cloud players, but it's still abysmal. And yes, you can download exports. And there's Google takeout. Is the data there all the data Google apps use to work ? No. Quite simply, no, it isn't. There's plenty more they won't ever give to you. And that's ignoring the fact that there's 1000s of developers making apps for Google and about 5 working on takeout. Why should Google be forced ? Well, that's the standard we're applying to microsoft, isn't it ?
And this is by far the most flexible cloud provider exporting data. They're not being jerks. I don't even think they're trying to be anticompetitive. Nevertheless, they're far more anticompetitive than Microsoft.
And of course, conveniently, the DRM-breaking is now a crime on things like iTunes and Hulu and ... because it involves actually creating access into someone else's computer system or at least changing their code (even though you're paying for it to do things and only getting it to let you exercise rights granted to you by law, like copying a movie). And the result is the same. iTunes, Hulu, even Play are ridiculously expensive, idiotically restrictive (buy movie on iTunes for a trip, go to Europe, log in to hotel wifi ... no movies. But no worries ! I copied that movie onto my device first. Nope, it won't play. WTF).
Same thing goes for app stores. There Apple is the big instigator of forced-incompatibility (or otherwise: your app won't run without Apple's permission hardware). Remember the flood of articles scaring people that microsoft might do this ? They're still at it, with the BIOSes that supposedly won't run anything but windows.
The dreaded "the right to read" scenario ( https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.en.html ) is far, far closer on the cloud and mobile than it is on your own machines.
>It's a wonder we can send e-mails between many servers.
I have a shared account on a small ISP, Microsoft won't receive our emails, even when replying to an email from a Microsoft user, even when user whitelisted. [It's probably the same with some other suppliers?] The only way to reply to people using Outlook/Hotmail/Live (I'm a user of hotmail for something like 16 years) is now to send via MS servers - basically had to make an account for this purpose.
The sending IPs aren't blacklisted with Senderscore (or other blacklists, I mention senderscore because they apparently provide domain reputation services for MS); some "related IPs" have medium reputation scores (senderscore 72).
If I send a new person an e-mail, I have to contact them on Facebook and tell them to check their spam folder. Fuck Google and Microsoft and their terrible e-mail filtering. Just because people are so dumb they will open any ransomware sent to them doesn't mean you drop all e-mail you don't trust with no way to account for it.
I run some websites that have their own mail servers. One thing you didn't mention which can help is to be sure to use an email signature. Basically short emails are more likely to be flagged as spam, especially if there's an attachment.
Had problems with hotmail before, it's just associated IPs being factored in too strongly. Same ISP has an IP address that spam has been sent from; support responds with won't fix. In their favour at least they responded.
Domain has SPF but not DKIM.
Thankfully no other mailbox provider blocks us. We could pay to be added to the third-party "friendly" domains list of course ...
I'm surprised they wouldn't whitelist our domain but leave it on a tight leash.
In short, legislating a solution is a workaround that can turn out to be a huge detriment not too long down the road. I'm no libertarian, but it seems like a bad idea to me.
The first link I got: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/02/south_korea_to_depo...
That is just for voice, now imagine you are a phone company and want to send a call to another phone company. There must be so many different things you need to cooperate on to make it happen - billing, switching, physical connections, numbering, codecs, etc. Yes the actual protocols may be standardised, but the main part is cooperation.
It's not standards we need, it's companies that are willing to cooperate and work together. None of the big tech companies want to do that now though. Everyone wants their own walled garden so they can say they have more users that X competitor.
(I'd argue that XMPP is good enough, or with a few extensions could be made good enough, for a company who really wants to push open IM)
Spectrum is owned by the public, and regulated as spectrum is a limited resource. IP messaging isn't by any practical means a limited resource.
> As far as I know, as long as I have the right to use the frequencies, I could start my own cellular telco that transmits whatever format I want.
No. Spectrum is regulated in terms of what technology you can use, and kind of usage is supported. You can't buy LTE spectrum and broadcast radio on top of it, and vice versa. You can't (in most cases) take 2G spectrum and deploy LTE on top of it.
Interesting! I was not aware of that. Thanks!
If a carrier "owns" the block between 1900MHz and 1940MHz, and let's say LTE supports 2 bits/Hz using Frequency Division Duplexing (each direction, up and down, gets a chunk of spectrum), with 3 sectors per cellular tower, the carrier can support a total of 40x2x3 = 240Mbps per tower, or 120Mbps each way.
If the tower serves 1000 users (they serve far more in dense urban areas), each user will have 120kbps of capacity, and if they all use it at the same time, that's the speed they'll get. If there's a single user, the maximum down speed for that user would be 120/3 = 40Mbps.
Point I ("I have the right to use the frequencies") directly depends on point II ("whatever format I want"). When applying for using a certain frequency band, you have to specify usage and purpose, and you can't just change your mind, i.e. you can't apply for GSM frequencies and say you will be running a GSM network, but then run the PavelLishinOverAir protocol.
While this is mostly true, in practice (at least on the 450-470 MHz band I work with), you can give fairly vague purposes, like "telemetry" or "SCADA", and it doesn't matter what vendor or what protocol you use. In fact, there is no section of the licence that says "I am going to use protocol X on equipment Y manufactured by vendor Z" or any part thereof (emissions designators are a different story).
I don't have any experience will cellular licences, though. Given that carriers frequently repurpose spectrum as technology changes, I can't imagine their licences say "GSM only" or anything like that. The band that used to be 3G GSM is being used for 4G LTE on my phone right now.
The same regulatory body (BNetzA) is also responsible for licensing telecommunications providers in general. This is probably the crunchpoint - if you're not a licensed telecommunication provider, it's simply illegal to offer telecommunication services.
I feel another such example is IPv6. It could move much faster if it would have been mandatory already.
- https://stats.labs.apnic.net/ipv6/CN vs https://stats.labs.apnic.net/ipv6/US
Everyone moans about AGPL. Fine. Make something better that says if you're going to interoperate with a service, you better damn well actually interoperate. Make the license viral like GPL and hopefully when we all push in that direction, everyone needs to join up.
This is totally crazy to me. It would be like the government legislating when and where people have spoken conversations with each other.
I think a more achievable version would be that any online service which maintains user data must provide a method for a user to retrieve that data in an open-source format. Some companies would deliberately obfuscate formats, such as calendar appointments as JSON rather than iCAL or another existing standard, but I think it would give users more control than they currently have.
Oh, I agree. You're describing the effect of a corrupt government allowed to prevent or eliminate laws meant to protect its voters. I was talking about what law would be necessary if voters cared enough to push one.
The result of open-sourcing all data formats and protocols would obviously be all the data formats and protocols released as open-source. OOXML is not the only one in existence.
The company itself has to use the format for live message exchange, have to publish a full working protocol document.
With OOXML Microsoft aren't required to be able to read & write a files correctly when it's written to the protocol. As I envisage it the requirement would be to open the protocol actually used "on the wire"; again with Word Microsoft don't use OOXML as primary.
I think it's workable except perhaps in requiring political will. It's an internet age equivalent of allowing third-party car parts manufacture.
Microsoft don't use OOXML as primary.
Sure they do, that's what .docx files are. They've been the default since Office 2007.
Microsoft was compelled to create and implement the standard so that governments can comply with their requirements to use "open standards". And they followed all the steps, including getting it past ISO, despite the mess that the format is. And so governments can now tick the "open formats" box when purchasing Office. It's all a sham, and I don't see how it'd be otherwise with this proposed law.
Then why do you need open standards? Every major proprietary IM protocol has been re-implemented by open source software, including Hangouts: https://bitbucket.org/EionRobb/purple-hangouts
It might also be handled in the courts if the law includes language that specifically instructs to attempt simple, readable protocols to "facilitate interoperability.
XMPP, the thing Google is being roasted for dropping support for, is often decried as being very complex and hard to implement correctly. If genuinely open protocols often end up like this, how can you possibly punish companies for writing complex, hard to implement protocols?
"This is to prevent or reduce lockin, walled gardens, etc."
What I said. I'll add that it's hard to copyright API's to sue over compatibility when the API's and their implementation are released as open-source software.
"If genuinely open protocols often end up like this"
What are you talking about? There's all kinds of results from protocol design. You chose one of the worst ones. I was a PSYC fan over that if I had to choose an IRC replacement or open chat standard. A test for new ones might be trying to run it through LANGSEC's Nail, Cap n Proto or ZeroMQ to see if they handle it easily. Anyway, it's easier to do compatible implementations if you have source and can't be sued/imprisoned for imitating it.
it's wild to me how quickly "we should find a market-external pressure source for forcing interoperability given the profit motive seemingly guarantees lack of federation because it relies on competition as its motive force" becomes "we must frogmarch innovators to the death pits"
Any emails they send to Gmail automatically go into the spam folder.
Why? I reckon it is because there is no SPF configured, no DKIM configured, etc.
We could try to get that small web hosting company to configure all that.
Instead, the plan is to move to G Suite for Nonprofits.
Even if we assume they are American companies, and we can sue them if they violate the rule; how on EARTH would we define an IM protocol broadly enough to avoid an easy avoidance of the law, but narrowly enough to not basically block all proprietary protocols?
If a company doesn't publish the protocol in use within, let's say 3 months of a valid request by a third-party then they'd be liable to a fine, perhaps something like $1 per day per registered user, plus costs of government and registered third parties in pursuing the interoperability request.
Small companies might escape, but if Facebook tried it they can't really run away. You'd need to be able to issue notices to ISPs to block those convicted of breaking the law, such orders are already part of UK law (against torrent discovery websites for example). Again you'd get some leakage but big providers like Microsoft couldn't feasibly expect enough customers to move to VPNs to bypass such a block.
IM client definition could be hard but in practice you'd have clauses requiring a judge to decide if the traffic exchange amounted to an IM communication. I see no problem with having a broad definition, if the definition were narrow then it would just get worked around. The definition would probably include email as a subset.
Were there other person-to-person communications protocols you are concerned would fall in the scope that definitely shouldn't be open?
And most of us in the US hope we never lose the right to open access in the way citizens of the UK have. I can't think of a worse thing to happen to the internet. The UK has proven that once you allow a government to censor the content of the internet they will aggressively and rapidly expand that power to censor and control.
(I was a Google SRE, sitting near the talk team. Everyone wanted XMPP to succeed, but the numbers didn't even come close to working out)
And your alternative @ google was yet another closed source protocol that doesn't work with any other closed source protocol(obviously, because they are closed source). Now imagine if the internet worked that way, Google wouldn't be where it is today.
The only difference between email and federated IM is email started out (mostly) federated and IM systems started out (mostly) not.
Only inertia is what drives this skepticism of federation in IM.
Just as there is no technical reason GateKeeper couldn't succeed on iOS just as it does on macOS, there is no technical reason federation couldn't succeed in IM as it does with email.
Just perceptions have to change.
Ultimately most users just don't care about federation. Them's the facts. That's why everyone takes PayPal and only nerds use bitcoin.
Slack vs IRC, too. Twitter vs GNU Social. I'm sure there are more.
> Ultimately most users just don't care about federation. Them's the facts.
Not really. Everyone is annoyed by this issue. But there isn't much they can do. People need to register on N different services and use N different clients to communicate with users of those networks when they need to. Do you think they appreciate this mess or find it highly convenient? But they don't have any other option (except may be not communicating with some of them at all).
Slack if you don't like that example.
It's technically and functionally identical to non-federated email.
It's not fragmentation if there is a single one that the whole planet uses.
Google's the blame party for a lot of things, but not the loss of email freedom.
It absolutely did. Everyone decrying how XMPP federation was killed conveniently forgets how useful it was to spammers.
I have been on the federated XMPP network pretty much as long as it has existed and I have not gotten a single spam attempt. I guess I could post my jabber ID somewhere to make it more sporting (they need that to even try) but I really don't want to add random people to my roster. Email is intrinsically different that way.
Here is today' world work flow:
1. Buy a domain
2. Have to use Google because your mail will end up in spam with any provider (unless it's outlook or some special provider).
Another intereting one is Tox.
Imagine if they thought like that about email?
But actually they replaced email with gmail. Now you can't send email from your own server because it will be blacklisted on gmail by default and noone on gmail will receive these emails. So you have to use "cloud email providers". On Android they changed "Email" client to "Gmail" client.
I've been running my own email server for a year without delivery issues to Gmail or Outlook/Office 365.
Just make sure your VPS IP is not blacklisted, and play the DKIM/etc game. You'll be fine.
I’ve had proper DKIM, proper SPF, my IP wasn’t blacklisted anywhere.
But I still ended up in Spam.
So I had to send for about a year emails to friends every few days, replicating our discussions on WhatsApp etc (so they’d have organic content), and I’d ask them to mark them as "not spam".
Now I end up in their normal Inbox.
EDIT: Why the downvotes? Please comment instead what you think is wrong – or how else do you think I should get my personal domain trusted?
I don't understand the downvotes either. So I upvoted your comment to counteract them.
I've found myself doing that more and more lately. I'll upvote a comment I disagree with if it was made politely and in good faith, and it appears to be getting downvoted unfairly.
If you want a new domain and have little traffic (e.g. personal domain), you're fucked.
I even have one of them in my HN profile if I recall correctly.
Random blacklisting maybe is less of an issue if you run your own server with a unique ip only you use, but for most people it's getting harder and harder not to use gmail/outlook/lycos.
So ya fuck spammers.
My server worked better after adding a TXT record with google-site-verification + all the normal DKIM stuff.
EDIT: here's a better link https://support.google.com/a/answer/183895?hl=en
I plan to roll my own email server in the near future, due to legal and privacy concerns. As I understand it, in the US email archives aren't protected under the Fourth Amendment because they're asking for data from a third party, and the Fourth Amendment only applies to self-incrimination.
Currently, as I understand they are not. But, there is legislation  which proposes extending Fourth Amendment protection to e-mails and communication stored on your behalf on third party servers. I've already written to my Congressperson in support of that bill.
5th amendment is self-incrimination, 4th is unwarranted search and seizure.
I don't know the current law, but it used to be that e-mails left on a server for more than 6 months were treated like abandoned property, which has a lower-bar to clear for the 4th amendment. I seem to recall hearing that this was changed a while back though.
How the 4th amendment applies to any case is complicated though because it's very much a sliding scale of intrusiveness, with higher levels of intrusiveness requiring more cause for searching.
That's not correct. I tried sending e-mails using my own local SMTP server, and it comes to Gmail just fine. Not that it's a good idea in general.
At least Wave was an open protocol including federation, even based on XMPP in fact. It maybe was the last thing before Google transitioned into a mostly walled garden.
> Now you can't send email from your own server because it will be blacklisted on gmail by default and noone on gmail will receive these emails.
I run a small mail server for some years now, no issues sending to gmail.
No, they didn't. Those are two separate apps. The Email one is part of AOSP. The Gmail one is part of Google Apps. Although many OEMs roll their own email client, as part of their custom skin.
How do I get to the plain email client?
Exactly :) I updated my comment above.
Open federated protocols with no obligation for providers to upgrade as the security landscape changes are a betrayal of user security and privacy of the highest order.
HTTPS is only becoming reasonable because Google can use its monopoly power and forced upgrade mechanism to bully website owners into adopting better practices. If we had a fragmented ecosystem of many open source browsers with user-consent upgrades and similar market share like the open web people wanted, certificate transparency would remain academic.
Personally, I consider the median advocate of open federated protocols to be more culpable for the wholesale violation of user privacy than the median NSA staffer.
I absolutely agree with you though, Discord is one product done right, runs everywhere, and everyone I ask to "join my discord" I can't even get rid of them once they're on it, and if I stop going on they nag at me. I secretly wish Discord had been based out of some open standard because it is well done.
I want to highlight that this is not realistically possible for anyone, not right now anyway.
When Discord was created, XMPP was the only option if you wanted to adopt an open standard, and it was absolutely not up to the task. Matrix was also an option but far too new.
Discord is a startup, and is run as a business (just like Slack). If you were at the head of a startup in the messaging space, and there were no reasonable open source options for messaging, you'd design your own. This is a hard process; making it an open protocol from the get-go removes a lot of your freedom.
I used to say (even here on HN) that Google was our best hope at creating a modern open source messaging protocol, by improving Hangouts and making it open. They have utterly failed.
I am confident Discord is our next best hope... assuming they succeed. Otherwise, it's back to waiting for Matrix to finish playing catchup.
In what way? The chief complaint I've heard about XMPP over the last couple of years is about excessive power consumption on mobile. And my own experience is that those concerns are highly over-stated.
I've never seen users actually complain directly about an app's "excessive power consumption". Can we all admit that one has always been an excuse?
The only other complaint I've heard about XMPP was that it was too extensible. There wasn't enough mandatory features in the base protocol to expect good clients for fancy things and there were too many extensions to need to follow to write a good client if you tried to track "fancy thing du jour"... which is as much a feature as a bug (and the whole reason for that X in XMPP).
Discord's product isn't a hosting service, their product is the quality of the service as well. This quality would be impossible with XMPP as it exists today, within the constraints of a startup. Remember, they do voice and they want to do video as well. Google's own efforts on Jingle failed due to performance.
As for mobile, it's not just power consumption, it's connection lifecycle. XMPP last I heard had extremely poor support for lossy connectivity.
Again, power consumption/connection lifecycle isn't directly a competitive advantage because your user doesn't care so long as it works. (Slack and FB Messenger seem to have terrible power consumption and connection lifecycles for mobile but also seem to be doing just fine.)
(Not to mention those are also things that could be fixed in an open standard, if people cared to contribute that effort. The unfortunate reality is that isn't a competitive advantage either.)
The competitive advantage is to find excuses to dismiss open standards, whether the arguments are technically or factually correct is another matter, and build walled gardens.
But more crucially to my previous point, being technically superior isn't really a competitive advantage if a user doesn't notice it and in fact, can slow one from getting first mover advantage by shipping something/anything faster and sooner. I really don't think that on a power consumption or connection lifecycle standpoint any of the closed source protocols are really all that much better, and we have mostly nothing but anecdotes to trade on that question because the companies want to maintain their secret sauces.
Can you expand on that. Are Discord using someone else's closed protocol then in preference to their own (which they could open) or an already open one?
Or did you mean "freedom" as in "ability to use lock-in", or something else?
It's something you care about less once you're big, but it matters a lot when you're starting.
If it's an open standard, they need to check in with everyone, document the move, potentially have to explain it or depending on popularity won't even be able to justify doing it. And suddenly, you see they're losing their competitive advantage for the sake of pleasing a few people on HN.
If it's a closed standard, they do whatever they want, don't have to justify or explain it to anybody. They can turn the protocol into fairy dust, run two versions of it for a while, and require a client upgrade if you want video chat.
Now, a few years down the line once Discord is established, has a solid business model and the protocol is clearly not changing anymore, then we can talk about making it open, allowing third party clients and we can really seriously start bugging them about it.
I very much want this to happen but Discord does need to be successful first. You'll get nowhere by bugging a startup to spend time on what could potentially kill the business.
You're missing the point I think (or I got cross-threaded). It's Discord's standard, making it an open standard just means the protocol details need to be public such that a third-party client that uses their protocol can send and receive messages to & from their client(s).
The people to be pleased are not just HN readers but everyone who uses an IM system as each system could, if desired, then speak direct to others. In theory it wouldn't matter that I have Facebook and you have Google, I could still message you. If the market works effectively the best protocols could then win, as could the best UX, even if they came from different companies.
If I were drafting a law on this then it would have an exclusion for SMEs or new companies, it would as you say be an unnecessary regulatory burden to require protocol openness prior to establishment of a service. We're looking at million user plus systems.
It was actually fascinating, because it was among the most viscerally negative reactions I've ever had to a piece of software.
It reminded me of that trick where you play back someone's speech to them in a very slight delay and it becomes very difficult for them to speak, only in this case with my inner monologue while trying to participate in a conversation.
Really impressively disturbing and uncomfortable. An amazing feat, but not something I will ever use.
Facebook Chat went live 2008-04-06. Google didn't view them as a threat in messaging but a threat in social networking; they thought they had messaging in the bag with their 2008-09-23 release of Android 1.0, and their 2008-11-11 update to Google Talk which brought voice and video calling, and their 2009-03-11 acquisition of GrandCentral, which was soon rebranded an invite-only Google Voice. But Facebook kept growing and growing and it had an integrated chat on a website where people went to spend their time, instead of Gmail, where they went to manage email.
To combat Facebook on social networking, Google launched Buzz with aggressive auto-opt-in on 2010-02-09. Buzz fizzled and attracted controversy for its aggressive piggybacking on Gmail, so Google tried again with Google Plus on 2011-06-28. That was a better effort, and it included the features "+Messenger", a text chat, and the video chat "+Hangouts". By this point Facebook had more than 700 million active users, and won messaging handily; its lead was cemented by the acquisition of WhatsApp on 2014-02-19, as Google continued to flail about.
In a post of mine last year  (which includes an older revision of the timeline linked in ), I speculate that it was Facebook Chat that killed the mid-2000s chat networks of old like AIM, Yahoo Messenger, and WLM, rather than Google Talk or any particular missteps of those incumbent chat networks. For example, I was surprised to learn that AIM was present in the iOS App Store at launch -- of course, there were no push notifications at the time -- not until 2009-06.
So a lot of influential management thinks going full FB is the way to go. But a lot of other people at Google think open standards are still the way of the future, or can be if a company like Google is willing to champion them.
The result of all of this is a complete and utter dumpster fire from a product perspective. It's the classic "if we're not pulling together then we're rowing against each other" problem. I think Google would be able to execute just fine if they could settle on what they want to achieve. Instead we have this.
This is actually really, really important to people.
In fact, that's precisely what they did. The old talk app for android worked fine, even before they terminated federation.
Hangouts failed both.
Google had (no longer has, IMO) the clout to design and drive a solid, open source messaging protocol with a reference implementation, sitting in the inbox of hundreds of millions of users and on hundreds of millions of phones. Instead, they created a slow, mediocre, closed source product that didn't interact well with their own video/voice calling system and fractured their own userbase between Hangouts, Google Talk, Google Voice and now even Allo.
(No, being forced to run chrome just to see chats in a crappy corner window isn't experience on par with iMessage / Telegram / Viber).
But who cares?
Even if there were, hypothetically, no possible way to make XMPP work, and Google really needed a custom protocol, they could still have released public documentation for that protocol, and open source client and/or server code.
Indeed, that's sort of what they did in 2009 by creating Jingle, an XMPP extension for voice chat, and releasing libjingle. But no such luck for the new stuff.
I could understand giving up federation, maybe, since it creates a spam problem. Though for Google to throw up their hands on spam is a bit ironic, given that Hangouts sits inside Gmail, which has world-class spam filtering. But federation was never really necessary: most XMPP clients support multiple accounts, and it's not like there were a lot of huge XMPP services - only one, Google. You just add that as an account in addition to whatever smaller-scale/organizational XMPP servers you use. (You know, the thing people used to use before Slack.)
Similarly, most XMPP clients support multiple protocols, so for Hangouts to use a custom protocol is not the end of the world. Annoying, but if the benefits are clear enough… it's fine.
But no. Like with most messaging services these days, Hangouts' protocol isn't documented, and nobody has bothered to reverse engineer it. So you're stuck with the official clients. Maybe not the end of the world, since unlike the bad old days of Windows-only clients that left Linux users in the cold, today any desktop OS can use the web client. (And non-top-two mobile OSes don't have enough market share for people to care about their not being supported, and many of them can run Android apps.)
Not the end of the world, unless you want all your messaging services in one place - people used to see a lot of benefit in that, and there are a lot more services now.
Or you don't like the official design. Or you don't like bloated web clients. Or you prefer free software.
If by world class you mean huge amounts of false positives and destroying the ability for people to send messages reliably between one another, then yes. It's totally world class .. a world class failure.
(I also remember being IMed by spambots using XMPP federation a few times.)
This does come at the cost of letting Google see all my email. I'm not happy about that, but I'm skeptical that a fully encrypted solution could provide filtering as effective. Certainly a self-hosted solution cannot.
(Except it costs money so most of my WhatsApp contacts will not switch.)
Talk had a full-featured native phone app way back in Android 2.1 with multiple device support, which Allo still doesn't have today. I used it religiously on my Nexus One.
https://meet.jit.si/ works just in the browser. What's the problem?
By the time google talk came around, third party clients were easily connecting to all the other major IM services. I don't think the open protocol made any difference to its popularity.
Didn't it? I think it had a client from the get go
XMPP is weird, true; it relies on opening an XML document and sending fragments of XML for the duration of the session and only closing the document at session completion. Very odd. But it performs extremely well. And once you get your head wrapped around the constraints, it's not so bad.
If the same GTalk was available on mobile, would I have installed WhatsApp?
IRC is just not the protocol of the future. There's far higher chances for Matrix to become popular or discord to be open sourced.
I'd love a totally OSS alternative to Slack. Maybe we'll see it with the recent Gitter acquisition?
(Warning: bias/plug; I contribute to Lounge)
I tried to fix it, but the client is a pile of terrible code and needs a complete rewrite.
Additionally, if you want to rewrite the client, you're welcome to start and open a PR - it's a community-run project. I've had Lounge running for months now without issue. Contributions are always welcome.
Gitter is more likely to be good but to be completely honest, it will take a lot of work to not be mediocre.
Freenode is part of the IRCv3 working group and I believe uses it internally somehow. IRCCloud is the largest IRCv3 implementation, they are fully IRCv3 compatible afaik.
Thanks for your feedback on Mattermost. Could you share more on what you'd like to see changed?
For folks who haven't seen Mattermost, here's a demo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKqHWqrAgpk&t=1s
Also, I noticed from your HN profile links you're a UX designer.
We're actually working on our new generation of mobile apps in React Native (https://github.com/mattermost/mattermost-mobile).
If you're open to critiquing some of the screenshots from early builds, or even participating in the design discussion, we'd welcome your involvement.
Also, we'd welcome you to join our community server at https://pre-release.mattermost.com/
I'm on there as it33 if you want to DM me to share more of your thoughts?
PS: Regarding IRC, Mattermost connects to IRC, XMPP, Slack, HipChat, Matrix and other systems via Matterbridge: https://github.com/42wim/matterbridge
Very few people know about Mattermost right now unless they use or used Gitlab. Whenever I hear Mattermost brought up, it's associated with Gitlab, which has a reputation of being "the slower, less-good GitHub" (and I love gitlab, don't get me wrong, but I agree with that reputation). Therefore, Mattermost, at least in my circles, has a reputation of being "the less good Slack".
And the main issue (unless I'm misunderstanding, but I did go through your pricing page again to double check) is that you do not offer SaaS except to enterprises. Which is super backwards. You're not going to be able to gather mindshare if you require people to set up your product themselves to even just try them out. Nearly none of your potential users have the expertise to do that, and those that do aren't going to want to do it unless they know what they're getting into beforehand. The only remaining ones that already do are Gitlab users, because they've had it set up for them.
Github, Travis, Slack, Discord, Sentry, half of the integrations you find on GH, what do they have in common? They're hosted and free to try. Make a free hosted version, make it very limited if you have to and promote upgrades/self-hosting, and then you have a shot at getting solid mindshare.
On a lesser note, since you asked for feedback, here's a couple more pieces of advice:
- The demo video you linked me is great. I see Mattermost has changed quite a bit since I last tried it, for the better. So I visited mattermost.com to try and get another look and it's super barebones on screenshots, I found no videos, there's no demo. After browsing the site, I have no feel for what mattermost looks like. And you don't link to your community server anywhere I could find, not even on your contact page!
- Consider making public Mattermost instances optionally readable without an account - read only, and enable that for your community server!. This would differenciate you from Slack and Discord and would improve the situation above. I realize it's a lot of work.
- On pricing again, it's irresponsible to put 2FA behind Enterprise only. Please don't do that. Push notifications could also stand to be in the free version, imho.
Cheers, hope that helps. My email is on my profile if you want to talk about this further.
You're 100% correct on website, we need an upgrade. We have someone starting soon to help and we'll show them this thread.
A couple of notes:
1. Push notifications are free. Paid is if you want to use Mattermost key for encryption (we choose not to encrypt things for people we don't know, but we document how they can do it themselves): https://docs.mattermost.com/overview/faq.html#are-push-notif...
2. Our intended users are organizations that need to deploy communication behind their firewalls (no 2fa from us needed) and can't use SaaS, e.g. manufacturing, banking, healthcare, public sector, security companies, companies with very strict non-disclosure agreements, etc.
Logos on our website are examples: https://about.mattermost.com/
PS: I read about HearthSim, you're running a really cool company. If you're ever in San Francisco for GDC, perhaps we could meet in person.
Might want to clarify that on your pricing page then; I thought the free version simply didn't have push notifications since they weren't in there.
> If you're ever in San Francisco for GDC, perhaps we could meet in person.
You bet. I'm usually in Anaheim for BlizzCon which is a safer bet, I don't normally do GDC. Feel free to shoot me an email if you're around :)
communication is taboo for ads. and nothing on the Internet can have a fee. see the incompatibility?
Facebook is spending on IM because it bought the first IM that dissociated itself from the Internet. every whatsapp user see it as a sms and phone company alternative.
everyone else that live by ads (Google, yahoo, etc) will try their hand at IM, realize they can't use it for ads or ad targeting, and will scratch it.
Google has its own agenda and making an open and distributed internet that respect people privacy or wishes is not part of it.
If you currently use Hangouts for your Google Voice communication, there’s no need to change to the new apps, but you might want to try them out as we continue to bring new improvements.
W.T.F? Don't bring me into your internal office politics...
Then there's Allo because with all the above they made it too complicated to chat with someone or something. Also Duo, because video calling was completely missing from the offerings above (it wasn't).
Google: please just leave hangouts alone!
This doesn't belong on HN, so please omit these sorts of things from comments.
Also, regarding branding: even overlooking the shell-game Google is playing with regards to moving features around (SMS => Voice, SMS => Hangouts, SMS => ?), the branding was confusing from the outset:
- Google Chat (GChat)
- Google Talk
- Google Voice
These might as well be synonyms.
Google Talk is the original XMPP based chat system and was known informally as Gchat or Gtalk. There were web and desktop clients. Hangouts is the "new" proprietary messaging system from 2013. Google Talk and Hangouts are integrated at least for text messages but Hangouts adds lots of features like group video chat. Google Talk provides XMPP protocol access for federation and third-party clients.
Hangouts app on Android could do Hangouts, local SMS, and Google Voice SMS.
I find it interesting that there is less confusion about Apple Messages even though it was renamed from iChat to iMessages to Messages. The app also supports both SMS and iMessage protocol. In addition, iChat supported XMPP and third party clients until was shut down.
The reason people aren't confused is because Apple just renamed the app on people's iPhones but didn't screw anything up for them. They were never forced to switch from one app to another app, never had multiple apps that did roughly the same thing with competing standards, and they didn't migrate users from one platform to another losing data in the process.
I'll never trust a Google messaging app because of that mess, and frankly I'm getting increasingly frustrated with Gmail/Inbox too and will probably move off it soon.
For bonus confusion, the Google Messenger icon just says "Messenger" and is nearly indistinguishable from Facebook Messenger, a completely different system. Better keep track of which blue speech bubble is which.
Or something, I'm probably butchering the quote. There's a reason we can play CDs from any manufacturer in every manufacturer's player. Likewise SD cards, VHS videos, DVDs...
The importance of working with your competitors was well understood in the 1980's. Seem's it's a lesson we need to learn again: https://hbr.org/1989/01/collaborate-with-your-competitors-an...
They're too busy suspiciously eyeing each other's userbases to waste time on anything like long-term strategic thinking that benefits anyone but themselves. To be honest it feels like that kind of collaboration is long gone - it came about because it was necessary to actually serve consumers. But while someone who purchased a Compact Disc player is a Sony customer, a person who uses chat is not a Google customer - they're a SKU. The whole way the Internet tech industry is structured is exactly the opposite of what you'd want if you wanted to encourage collaboration. By making users and their data a commodity instead of customers there's no benefit at all to improving their general experience.
Their executives need to get on a whiteboard and make a few simple mandates, such as:
1. There will be a single protocol for messaging across all Google properties, compatible with open protocols where feasible.
2. There will be a single “app icon” on Android, and single app on each major platform, for achieving communication. All legacy messaging services will be available from this point.
3. Every reasonable handle for identifying users will be supported, including: profile names, E-mail addresses, real names, and legacy messaging user IDs.
4. Effective immediately, every single team working on every Google chat product will report to Foobar McManager, whose compensation will depend directly on achieving integration goals by $DATE.